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Parents in denial about seriousness of condition (long - sorry!)

(5 Posts)
Euphemia Thu 04-Jul-13 11:26:09

My dad was diagnosed with lung cancer two and a half years ago. It was first found in his brain, and at the time the doctors gave him two to three years if he accepted all the treatment. He's 71.

He's had an op to remove the brain tumour, chemotherapy, radiotherapy several times.

A few months ago they found a tumour in the base of his spine, for which he received radiotherapy. Since then he has been confused, wobbly on his feet, incontinent and a danger to himself.

Yesterday he was hospitalised as he was shivery, unable to stand up, and feeling dizzy. He has a urine infection, low blood pressure and he's dehydrated.

He seems better today, but yesterday the A&E doctor warned us that he could die from this episode, especially if his blood pressure remains low. He advised against any attempts at intervention or resuscitation should my dad go into organ failure.

This all seemed to come as a big shock to my mum. She hasn't talked to my dad about what he wants by way of care, whether he would want resuscitation or not. hmm

They have no carers coming into the house, and they have not had a conversation about what they are going to do when his condition worsens, or my mum can't cope with him any more.

My feeling is we are in the end stage. They've had two and a half years to come to terms with this, but they're both deluding themselves that he could get better. My dad even went to his GP for nicotine patches, with a view to giving up smoking! (He currently smokes 20-30 a day.) My mum seems to think that if they keep treating the cancers as they pop up, he will eventually beat it.

I don't know how to support them right now. I'm ready to say goodbye, and to let my dad go peacefully and without undue suffering, but my mum is a long way off. She's never been good at having "difficult conversations", and downplays how bad things are. (I made her phone 999 yesterday - she had phoned the GP and was waiting for a call back for a home visit several hours later!)

Sorry this is so long. If anyone has any advice on how to support my parents, I'd appreciate it!

Hardhaton Thu 04-Jul-13 11:30:31

Sounds like she isn't ready to face losing her h. Maybe you should gently talk to her. All the decisions have to be made between the two of them, she is his next of kin not u so she or he have to make the difficult desisions.

Floralnomad Thu 04-Jul-13 11:36:26

Sadly you probably won't be able to change her attitude and when the end does come it will be an almighty shock for her . Having said that 71 is not old anymore and good on your parents for fighting this awful disease . All you can do is support them both as best you can . I assume from what you have said that your father is now 'not for resuss' and you do need to make sure that your mum is fully aware of what that means should the worst happen whilst she is present . Perhaps the hospital could get a Macmillan nurse or someone from the Hospice to come and speak to your parents if they haven't already . Just to say please take care of yourself as well x

Euphemia Fri 05-Jul-13 23:17:31

I'm glad to say my dad seems to be out of danger, for now at least! smile

He's nipping my mum's head and moaning that the hospital food is cold, so pretty much back to normal! He's likely to be in a few more days.

DD and I are going to stay for a week from Sunday, so I will talk more to my mum about planning for the future. We simply cannot end up in a situation where the doctor is asking my mum if she wants him to perform CPR or not ... sad

Floralnomad Sat 06-Jul-13 09:18:15

Good news .

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